Hold Your Tongue
Louise Giovanelli & Pius Fox
Preview: 22 June 2018, 6.30-8.30pm
Show continues: 23 June – 15 July 2018
Opening hours: Friday-Sunday 12-6pm
Hold Your Tongue is a figurative expression meaning to be silent, and not meant to be taken literally. In the context of this exhibition, the title alludes to the problematic relationship between painting and language — specifically the current mode of viewing or interpreting artworks, and the tendency to project meaning (assumed and speculated) onto artworks. There is often an uneasiness where labels, intending to be helpful, operate conversely to generate literal interpretations; telling the viewer what they are looking at, and how to look.
The artists first encountered each other’s work on digital, image based platforms and were able to connect through a shared appreciation and understanding of the medium regarding surface qualities, abstract ideas, multiple overlapping or underlapping planes, folds, excavation and negation - an understanding that was purely visual, perceptual and sensorial; that required nothing other than looking. This experience reveals the potential of painting to transcend geographical and linguistic limitations. The artists’ first spoken language (their mother tongue) may be different, but their painting language is shared. Painting allows them to overcome conventional barriers when attempting to communicate.
Hold Your Tongue hints at how language can distract and detract; how the verbal can undercut the visual. This exhibition is essentially about a crisis in looking. With so much attention given to external content being used to explain what painting means, Hold Your Tongue strives to test the possibilities of perception and realign painting as a position that is primarily visual, experienced and felt.
Countering the question, ‘but what does it mean?’ the title also sets itself against the expectation of painting to tell all. If these paintings are supposed to speak for themselves, we will be left waiting in vain. Like a dual-purpose command, Hold Your Tongue instructs both the viewer and the painting itself to remain silent. We are invited to look. These paintings are still and mute; seen but not heard.